Gators hoping special teams give them the edge

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Shane Landry provided St. Amant with a big kick return in the Gators’ 59-6 win over McKinley.

In close games, it oftentimes comes down to which squad has the more dependable special teams.

St. Amant is hoping this will give them the edge as the Gators move into the toughest part of their schedule.

All the fun and games are over for St. Amant. The Gators are now ready to enter what head coach David Oliver has called a “gauntlet.” It’s the meat of the District 5-5A schedule.

It’s a brutal four-game stretch that features games against Woodlawn, Catholic, Dutchtown and East Ascension. 

With so much talent spread around between these teams, St. Amant is looking for any kind of edge that can result in victory. Maybe special teams can be just that for the Gators.

In the last two weeks, St. Amant has excelled in that aspect of the game. It’s been a huge contributor in the Gators winning their last two contests by a combined margin of 107-18.

“I’m real pleased with how we’ve been playing in that area. We’ve worked really hard to correct some errors on special teams, because I think that’s going to be the difference in some of our district games,” Oliver said.

The kicking game has been solid for St. Amant. Not only is Cole Poirrier a terrific quarterback for the Gators, but he’s also their kickoff specialist, and most of his kicks have resulted in touchbacks.

At kicker, Beau Bercegeay has been accurate with field goals and downright automatic with extra points.

And St. Amant is always looking for cheap points after touchdowns.

For extra points, the Gators line up with all linemen but the snapper in a swinging gate outside the left hash. If the defense doesn’t respond appropriately, St. Amant will try to score two points.

This happened three times in the Gators’ 59-6 win over McKinley last week. St. Amant converted the two-point tries twice.

And the return game has been huge for St. Amant in the past two weeks.

In the Gators’ 48-12 victory over Helen Cox, senior De’Andre Taylor did something that no player has done in the 14 years Oliver has been coaching at St. Amant.

Taylor returned a kickoff for a touchdown. That score pushed a 14-6 lead to 21-6. From that point on, the route was on for the Gators.

Last week against McKinley, St. Amant had a long kick return and also a long punt return. 

The kick return was a 40-yarder by junior Shane Landry. It set the Gators up with a first down at the McKinley 19-yard line. They scored a touchdown just three plays later to make it 23-0.

The teams in Ascension Parish are always so evenly matched. Last year’s St. Amant vs. East Ascension game went to overtime. The last time the Gators played Dutchtown, it was a 39-31 ballgame.

A big special teams play can be the difference in a contest that tight.

“It’s a third of the game, so special teams are huge, and it results in a lot of hidden yardage,” Oliver said. “There are so many really good players in our district. [Rickie] Collins is going to get his yards; [Dylan Sampson] from Dutchtown is going to get his yards. So, you have to find other ways to get yards and keep up. That’s the only way you’re going to get some yards back and keep the games competitive. So special teams can be a great equalizer.”